"Diva": Dan Morales' ex-stripper wife
Paper: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Date: SUN 07/27/97
Edition: 2 STAR
Speaking up for the new bride/Many praise Morales' wife
By JOHN W. GONZALEZ
ABILENE - By day, she was "Christi," a mom and conservative student
at a small Baptist college in Brownwood.
By night, she was "Diva," a popular topless dancer at the rough-edged Club Maximus, a "gentleman's club" inside a corrugated metal building in an Abilene industrial park.
Now Christine Marie Glenn, a 28-year-old mother of two, is the new bride of Texas Attorney General Dan Morales , 41.
While the previously unmarried Morales credits Glenn with bringing him unprecedented happiness, their unlikely union has prompted questions about whether she will be a political liability for him when he runs for re-election next year.
Neither Morales nor Glenn will talk about their marriage or Glenn's two-month stint as a topless dancer, which ended a year and a half ago. But co-workers at Maximus defend her as a smart and attractive woman who struggled as she emerged from a divorce and who resorted to topless dancing only to raise cash quickly.
They said "Diva" was uncomfortable in the topless scene and embarrassed when recognized by acquaintances from Brownwood. She quit after a couple of months of commuting from her home 77 miles to the southeast.
Dancers, college friends and law enforcement officers say Glenn stayed out of trouble during her twice-a-week job at Maximus.
"Some of the girls do their little business off to the side. She never did," said Maximus dancer Gabby Gonzalez.
"She never did private parties. Never ever. If she did, we would have heard about it," Gonzalez said, taking a break from her own rounds on the club's nonstop stages.
"The truth is she didn't do anything wrong," Gonzalez said. "She had to do what she had to do."
A Brownwood records clerk verified that Glenn has no criminal history in that town. Abilene records mention Glenn only as the victim of an apartment burglary last November. At the time, she was working as an accounts manager for Snelling Personnel. The Snelling job led Glenn to a fateful business luncheon in March, where Morales was the guest speaker.
According to her only media interview, Glenn approached Morales to talk about child-support issues; he agreed to meet her on a subsequent visit and they fell in love over dinner. They got engaged in May, were married on July 5 in San Antonio and reside in Austin.
In a recent campaign mailing, Morales , a Democrat who will run for a third four-year term in 1998, reveled in newfound marital bliss.
"While the successes of my administration have brought me great pleasure, by far the most fulfilling development during the past six and a half years as your attorney general occurred earlier this year when I met the woman I would marry, Ms. Christi Glenn of Abilene," Morales said.
"I met Christi during a speech to the Better Business Bureau in Abilene. And as it is sometimes said, the rest is history," Morales said.
"Christi and her two children have enriched my life in a way that I had not previously known. I look forward to my new role as husband and father," he said.
Morales spokesman Ron Dusek said the attorney general's wife declined to talk to the Houston Chronicle because she didn't want to go through the "trauma" of discussing her past.
"For anyone to have to recount various sad or traumatic events from their childhood or their past life is not pleasant. She has done this once. That should suffice," Dusek said.
Glenn has consistently declined to talk about her stint as a dancer after an interview in June with the San Antonio Express-News. At that time, Morales ' then-fiancee disclosed that she lost her parents when she was young, grew up in foster care in Three Rivers and Beeville in South Texas, and endured a troubled three-year marriage that ended two years ago. She acknowledged dancing topless but offered few specifics.
"I didn't want to do it. But I was going to feed my babies," Glenn told the Express-News.
She claimed that earlier this year she was abruptly fired from her job as a weekend weather reporter at an Abilene television station after someone complained that she had worked as a topless dancer. KRBC-TV station manager Jim Batson, who said Glenn worked there from Jan. 20 to Feb. 28, declined to comment further.
Glenn had parlayed her on-camera experience at Howard Payne University in Brownwood to get the TV job. She served as host of a campus TV newscast and The Scene, a contemporary Christian music video show.
In spring 1996, she was an English student-teacher at Brownwood High School, but decided to forgo teaching to seek a media career after graduation with a degree in communications in May 1996.
"She got the bug and decided that she just didn't think teaching was going to work for her," said Howard Payne communications professor R. Pepper Dill.
"She was going to go to Abilene and see if she could get on there, and she did," Dill said, adding that Glenn's physical appearance was well suited for TV.
"She's got the look, quite honestly. She's got a beautiful face. Her eyes are light-colored (green). She's blonde," said Dill.
Dill, an instructor and adviser to Glenn, said he knew she was trying to put a troubled marriage behind her, working assorted retail and clerical jobs to make ends meet.
"I admired her grit . . . she's had a rough, rough going," Dill said. "She is terribly persevering. She realized she couldn't necessarily depend on some man coming into her life and make everything great."
Howard Payne telecommunications instructor Marion Bishop likewise knew Glenn as a hard-working student with stunning looks.
"Christi was very good on camera. She has a lot of presence, a lot of charisma," Bishop said.
When word of her dancing quickly reached Brownwood on the student grapevine, Bishop said he was dismayed and disbelieving, yet understanding.
"I don't think Christi ever claimed to be perfect. I do know she had a deep-seated faith," Bishop said.
"And while maybe some of the things she's done in the past are not reflective of what some people say are Christian values, if she did something like that, it may have been her only choice," Bishop said.
"It almost goes along with the script for Striptease, with Demi Moore," Bishop said. "The only thing she can do to make enough money is be an exotic dancer."
At the Abilene club where Glenn performed, Maximus dancers don't really do much classic striptease, except to remove hotpants or a miniskirt, fling them aside and reveal their G-strings. Bathed in black light, the dancers swing around poles that look like oilfield pipe, not fancy brass, while men wearing denim and cowboy hats draw close with dollars in hand.
Rick Sandlin of Merkel, Taylor County leader of the American Family Association, which speaks out on a variety of moral issues, views Glenn's dancing stint as a mistake that could serve as a constructive lesson to others.
"For 20 years, the American Family Association has worked to promote decency in the community. We firmly believe that establishments such as Maximus are destroying families," he said.
"I think Mrs. Morales made a mistake by working there, and I hope she uses this experience to reach out to other girls and show them how to turn their lives around to the positive," Sandlin said.
State AFA director Wyatt Roberts agreed, saying, "It sounds to me like she's turned her life around, and I'm happy for her.
"I think it would be a big mistake for any political opponent to attempt to use this against (Morales ). His record is sufficiently bad that no one needs to go to personal attacks."
Morales , who defends his efforts to improve child-support collections, fight crime and protect consumers, will have at least one opponent in the 1998 Democratic primary. Several Republicans will vie to challenge him that fall. A key Morales fund-raising event is planned for Sept. 24 in Austin and he has promised supporters to have his new wife by his side.
For Glenn, the quick trip from obscurity to celebrity has been a wild ride, with much of the action taking place here in West Texas. In her late teens, Glenn was drawn from South Texas by a Baptist scholarship to Howard Payne University, where an older brother was already enrolled. At the school, she met and married Corey Clay Neal, who could not be located for comment.
Glenn married Neal in 1991, about three months after she gave birth to a son, according to Glenn's account in the Express-News. A daughter was born in 1993. The couple separated in May 1994 and six months later, while he was stationed with the Army in Hawaii, Glenn sued Neal for divorce in Brownwood.
In July 1995, the divorce was granted. Initially he was required to pay $365 in monthly child support, but a 1996 court order lowered the payments to $170 a month.
Sometime in late 1995, Gonzalez recalled, a boyfriend of Glenn's brought her to Maximus, where she wound up getting a job as a door attendant, then cocktail waitress, then dancer.
Gonzalez said she helped convince Glenn that dancing would be lucrative. For Maximus dancers, $200 in tips is a good night, while $50 is rated as slow, she said.
"The guys liked her. It's not like she threw herself at them. She didn't know what she was doing. The guys were attracted to her - not by the way she danced," Gonzalez said. "She had a nice body."
Co-workers, she said, felt sorry for Glenn when she lost the TV job.
"She got fired because they found out she worked here. That makes us feel bad," Gonzalez said, insisting her profession isn't as scandalous as some believe.
"You have a better chance of picking up somebody in a regular bar than here because we're here to support our kids," Gonzalez said. "We're not here to take a man home."